Interview with Author Mira Prabhu

My guest today is Mira Prabhu.  Hello, Mira!  Welcome to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

  



My novel, Whip of the Wild God, was published in April 2013 on Createspace, Amazon, Kindle and Smashwords.

In Print format:

In e-book format:

Note: A direct search on Google.com for “Whip of the Wild God” will generate most of the above listed sites.

Is there anything that prompted your book ? Something that inspired you? 


I grew up in an unusually westernized community in south India. Bizarrely enough, I only began to investigate my ethic origins after I got to Manhattan in my mid-twenties. Eastern philosophy, particularly the ancient teachings on tantra—which transliterates roughly as ‘the explosion of consciousness’—fascinated me. It saddened me that the original purity of tantra seemed to have vanished; both in India and in the west, tantra was generally equated with unbridled hedonism. And yet I was learning that a genuine tantric/tantrika cultivates a strong ethical and philosophical foundation—without which one is not permitted to take a mate; the process of laying a proper foundation can take decades.

Other factors shaped my book. I admire the best of ancient India, and abhor what this country has turned into as a result of endless invasions, the caste system, and systemic corruption. So the novel’s genre became historical fiction. My community—the Saraswat Brahmins—had settled in the Indus Valley Civilization thousands of years ago; some scholars believed it was these people who practiced and refined the arts of tantra. I put all these ingredients together, stirred them up with the wand of my fecund imagination, and came up with the exciting plot of Whip of the Wild God

Great!  So, when did you know you wanted to write?  Or has it always been a pastime of yours?


In school, I regularly won prizes for essays, elocution and dramatics. Once, for a class assignment, I wrote a fictional essay about entering a singing competition and winning second place. Next day I was called into the Principal’s office and reprimanded—apparently the vividness of my writing had led my teacher to complain that I had been attending external competitions without permission from the school! It took effort to convince that stern American nun that I had made the whole essay up! The incident made me realize I had a gift with words. Years later, I worked as an advertising copywriter, first in India, then in Manhattan. On the side, I wrote a collection of seven short stories, each about an Indian woman facing terrible odds. My literary agent at the time showed the collection to several Manhattan-based publishers, several of whom were impressed—but most of whom insisted I first write a novel. And so my personal creative saga goes....
 
Do you have any favorite authors?
 
I’ve read thousands of books over the decades, indiscriminately, whatever I could get my greedy hands on. The first novel I recall being moved to tears by was William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice. I also enjoy Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Carlos Castaneda’s earliest work...the whole genre of magical realism. For a long time I would read only spiritual/mystical books produced by a whole range of authors. I still love a good thriller, though these days I often find myself depressed at the end—too much gut-wrenching and senseless violence to absorb. Ah, and the novels of Annie Proulx are great...so many terrific authors are springing up all over the place. 

Do you write in a specific place?  Time of day? 


I quit working 9 to 5 (in Manhattan) way back in 1999; ever since, I’ve had the luxury of writing whenever I feel the urge. For several months during my stay in Takoma Park, near Washington DC, as I plowed through a major revision of my novel, I would begin at 7 pm or so and go right through the night. These days I can wake up with the urge to write first thing in the morning. At other times it’s the late afternoon, or at night, after dinner. Oh, and now I write in my bedroom, on a laptop.

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers?  Any advice?     


As Joseph Campbell said, "Follow your bliss". Make sure you are in love with your theme, your characters, your plot. If you are passionate about your work, the odds are that your authenticity will grab your reader’s heart.
 

So, readers, here is the blurb for Whip of the Wild God.

 
Whip of the Wild God catapults you on a wild ride into 1839 BCE India....Ishvari, an angry and spirited girl plucked out of rural poverty to be meticulously groomed by tantric monks, is elected to serve as spiritual consort to Takshak, powerful monarch of Melukhha. Her tumultuous journey--from terrified peasant to glamorous High Tantrika of Melukhha--hurls her into the abyss of addiction. As she sinks into depravity, Ishvari violates the ancient Melukhhan code of honor, infuriating Rudra-Shiva, the Wild God, and calling forth Takshak’s sadistic revenge. And yet, as Ishvari flees for her life, now a notorious fugitive with a gold price on her head, the fire wisdom teachings she has grasped intellectually as a girl finally blaze into roaring life....here is a magnificent metaphysical saga you will find impossible to put down!


“I have read every word and absolutely loved it! Ishvari is a compelling protagonist who I really “felt” as I read of her incredible adventures and personal journey….all of the yoga, tantra and higher teachings are so well presented and woven into the plot. I couldn’t put the book down. I worked in book publishing for seventeen years, at major houses where we published many historical novels, and this is among the best I’ve read….after the first fifty pages, I realized that this is a book that gives me that tingling spine.” - Jo Sgammato, New York Times bestselling author; General Manager of the Integral Yoga Institute of New York
Here is an excerpt.


“All in good time, my holy harlot,” the hag rasped, squinting evilly at Ishvari as she rubbed at the grime embedded in the pores of her face with broken and dirty nails. She hawked up a blood-streaked ball of phlegm and spat it upward towards Maruti, who shrank back into the tree, but made no move to flee. “Now tell me,” the intruder giggled obscenely, “have you been making plans for your future?” She glanced at the river and waggled her bushy gray eyebrows. “Will I see your corpse floating down this river on my next visit perchance? Or will you sacrifice yourself to the fire in Melukhha’s noble tradition, gathering wood for your own pyre, tears pouring down your silly face as you bemoan your fate?”  


The witch chuckled, hugely entertained by her own words. “Know what I know?” she shouted up at a cowering Maruti. “If the stupid slut didn’t have one single enemy,” she roared, obsidian slits of eyes glinting. “If the entire universe simply adored her! If rocks and flowers and curs and serpents all bowed and licked and kissed her pampered bottom—she’d still do a superb job of destroying herself! That’s our shining star of Devikota!”


“Who are you?” Ishvari cried again, her mind running feverishly over recent events—not even Mandakini nor Vasudeva could have discovered where she was! She turned away to hide the rush of tears. Should she beg the crone for mercy? Convince her how genuinely sorry she was for her crimes? That she wished to spend the rest of her life making amends? A soft laugh floated into the air and Ishvari whirled around. The hag was gone; in her place was a delicate yogini gleaming like a crescent moon in pure sky, naked except for a garland of munja grass around her swelling hips. 


Who am I? the yogini smiled. One of the sixty-four yoginis of this sacred valley. I came to you in disguise to ascertain that you are ready to transform—and you are, for I see that your heart has been cleansed of all demonic influence. 


The sixty-four yoginis! Seekers who, after eons of fierce practice, had won their way into the inner circle of Mahadevi, the Great Goddess! 


The Melukhhan debacle has revealed to you that all hedonism
 is fueled by illusion,
the sparkling yogini cut wordlessly into her thoughts. You created an awful mess despite your great gifts and
many blessings, Ishvari, but now you must firmly shut the door on
the past and turn your attention to your mother, who suffers horribly as the direct result of your fall. 


Ishvari sank down in worship, stunned by her unearthly beauty. 


The time has come to make your amends, the yogini transmitted. Be swift and decisive and win the battle against your lower nature forever! Start by bringing Sumangali here. Care for her, even as you begin your true inner work. The highway to
enlightenment opens rarely, and those who miss the critical turn are lost. 


“Bring my mother to this valley?” Ishvari quavered. 


The yogini inclined her glorious head. Agitated by the false priest, the villagers plan to burn Sumangali to death in her cottage before the moon is full again. Tonight you may rest, but tomorrow you must go to Devikota and bring your mother back with you.


“You are powerful,” Ishvari whispered. “Can’t you bring her here? I swear to make her happy, to care for her like a loving daughter should.”


The yogini’s eyes shone with compassion. This valley is charged by the enlightenment of many beings, beloved, which is why your body has healed so quickly. And though it may appear to be that way from time to time, you are never ever alone. Her exquisite hands fluttered like silver moths in the fading light. We shall help you in other ways, but this one task you must do yourself. We bid you use your time here well: shine light on hidden faults and let go of bitterness. Confront all you find repulsive and help the helpless. Tread boldly on both holy and unholy ground, and keep in mind that a yogini seeks balance. Do these things well, and by the crescent on your palm, you will know your true self to be as limitless and pure as the sky.


A breeze swirled across the valley, cooling Ishvari’s cheeks as she blinked back tears of gratitude. Musk and the fragrance of sandalwood filled the air. Then she was alone again.


 Author Bio
 

I was born in India and moved to New York in my mid-twenties. It was during my tumultuous residence in Manhattan that I first became fascinated by eastern philosophy’s power to transform the genuine seeker. So, during the freezing winter of 1993, I began to write Whip of the Wild God, a novel of tantra set in an ancient civilization reminiscent of India’s famous Indus Valley Civilization. I completed this novel–believe it or not!–twenty years later, in the shadow of Arunachala, the ancient hill considered by millions to be the God Shiva incarnate.


Three more novels are currently simmering in my consciousness–Copper Moon Over Pataliputra, set in the time of the magnificent Mauryan Empire (300 BCE, India);Krishna’s Counsel, a contemporary novel (the genre: metaphysical crime fiction!), set both in India and New York, and a third, untitled, in which I intend to present the spiritual “view” necessary for seeking moksha, or enlightenment–a unique and perhaps controversial view I have garnered from my travels and study all across the globe–from south India to Manhattan, to the foothills of the Himalayas, Europe, and finally back to south India.

I now live in the deep south of India, hanging out with my divine canines, Kali and Aghori, delighting in my growing garden, and continuing to mine my own creative and spiritual potential.


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